Trying to save a resource, an animal an endangered plant? Look to the people around it. That's my take on a study just published by a team of Indiana University political scientists. They looked at what factors make a particular conservation policy succeed or fail. Lo and behold, it's not the research or the recommended policy itself. But it's how the policy is enacted, enforced and treated by those in charge and those affected.
The scientific models can do pretty well predicting how polar bears or bald eagles will do under certain conditions. But the Indiana folks say, "One thing these models can't account for are the unpredictable behavior of human beings whose lives influence and are influenced by conservation efforts." So they recommend a long-term study of how to make conservation policies work with the ever-present human factors.
Even the American government's U.S.Geological Survey is now predicting a sorry future for the polar bear. Less ice makes polar bear hunting in the Arctic highly problematic. So as the Geological Survey looks at what can or should be done for the polar bears in the face of disappearing ice, we hope they'll be looking at the various crucial human issues as well. Guess we can't make new "ice floes" out of all that plastic killing albatrosses in the mid-Pacific?
The polar bear picture is courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey.